Both of Arsenal's goals yesterday were well-taken; Santi Cazorla, though left catastrophically unmarked by the Liverpool defense, did well to first get his headed effort on goal and then to follow the rebound off the post and place it into the net. Aaron Ramsey bettered his teammate just before the hour with a wonderful half-volley from just outside the Liverpool area, leaving Simon Mignolet helpless for the second time on the day.
The Belgian was otherwise very good on the day, however, making a number of other stops and limiting the nervy moments that had marked his performances of the last few weeks. He hasn't managed to maintain the match-changing form of the first two or three matches, but he's still been largely excellent through his first three months as Liverpool number one.
As a goalkeeper it seems part of the deal that he'll start to grow into a leadership role; that was one of the biggest areas of concern when Pepe Reina left given that he occupied such a large emotional space at the club, and while Mignolet isn't quite there yet, he's at least making all the right noises, a trend he continued after yesterday's disappointing loss:
"Everybody wanted to do well today; we were motivated and confident going into the game because it was a good opportunity for us to go top of the table. Unfortunately, we came across a good Arsenal side - they put us under pressure and scored an early goal. Afterwards, you're chasing the game a bit. At half-time we changed things and managed to create some chances, but we couldn't score a goal. Then Aaron Ramsey killed the game off really.
"Arsenal are doing really well at the moment and they are a good side. That doesn't mean we're not disappointed, but the most important thing is that we can't drop our heads after this performance. We must look forward and make sure we put things right next week with the game against Fulham. It's always important to respond after a defeat. I'm sure everybody will be prepared to work hard from Monday onwards for the preparation against Fulham."
That response will hopefully involve renewed defense solidity, as Liverpool haven't managed to keep a clean sheet since their 1-0 win over Manchester United on September 1st. There's little they could have done about the atrocious decision against West Brom last weekend, but on the whole the midfield and defensive approach hasn't been at a consistently high level in weeks. Mignolet's been a part of that occasionally, with the aforementioned flapping here and there, but I'm also struggling to think of something he's done that directly led to a goal for the opposition other than get sighted and have a delayed reaction on Yohan Cabaye's opener in the 2-2 draw at Newcastle.
All of which is to say that Simon Mignolet is starting his Liverpool career quite well, both on the pitch and in the emotional space previously inhabited by Pepe Reina. He's growing into both roles, and there's little to indicate that he won't be the man for the future at Anfield. With improvements likely, that's a good thing.